Muscle unfolds like a series of Russian dolls, each more Beckettian, winding and wonderful than the one before. Compelling enough to read in one gulping go.’

Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under

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Box and _____ are a pair of toughs in a hard-boiled city ripped straight from the pulps—

they go where they’re told and break things when they get there. But something bigger than either of them is looming. It might be a mystery, a senseless maze of corpses or an inextricable fever dream, but no dumb muscle is getting out alive.

Muscle is a noir novel in wild collapse: violence jostles with boredom, thugs try to cut off an already-missing ear, and a mind is possessed by either time travel or insanity.... Ceaselessly imaginative, drunk on cinematic and literary influence, this is a blackly comic debut from a writer of singular style and invention.

Alan Trotter is a writer based in Edinburgh.

Muscle, his debut novel, won the inaugural Sceptre Prize for a novel-in-progress. He has written short fiction for Somesuch Stories, Under the Influence, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and the Electronic Literature Collection, as well as a digital story for phones called All This Rotting. His website is more interesting than you might expect.